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Homekey Program

Fremont is considering participation in The Homekey Program, a state-wide affordable housing initiative. The state promises 40.2 million in funds, and on January 18, 2022 the city council has officially decided to apply with the promise to convert the Motel 6 in Warm Springs into upwards of 150 affordable housing units.


Illustrated by Ku Li


By Daniel Gong and Faith Qiao

 

In March 2020, the Roomkey Program was launched. The purpose of the program was to convert motels into shelters to protect the homeless from COVID-19 by providing homes and rooms for COVID-19 positive/ exposed homeless. In San Francisco, the Roomkey Program proved essential in limiting COVID-19 spread in the homeless community. By providing rooms, 81% of participants completed their quarantine, largely limiting the spread of COVID-19 in San Francisco.


In May 2020, the Homekey Program was originally proposed to provide $800 million dollars to create affordable housing. The goal of the original launch was to create 6,000 affordable housing units throughout the state quickly and effectively. Because of the success of the Roomkey program, California passed the Homekey Program in September of 2021. The Homekey Program retains the similar features to its parent program (converting hotels into affordable housing units) but with a renewed budget of $1.45 billion versus the original $800 million it's goals are far more ambitious.


Presently, the Fremont City Council has unanimously approved the use of the Homekey Program to convert the Motel 6 on Research Avenue to affordable housing. The Homekey Program funding allows for the creation of housing that Fremont could never afford by itself. The conversion of the Warm Springs Motel 6 into affordable housing will take $33.4 million just by itself, a large amount to generate by our city.


The grant is expected to cover $31.8 million of the conversion cost. Moreover, the city has requested an additional $5.2 million to cover a portion of the operating costs for the first five years. Fremont will cover the remaining operation cost of $9.4 million with the city's affordable housing fund and other city funds. Furthermore, the grant will likely also give two $1.56 million bonuses for early application and expedited occupancy leading to a total possible award of around $40.2 million.


The project development and construction is to be overseen by Shangri La Industries. Support services and property management will be provided by Step Up. Tenants will register via referral and application. Rent will vary depending on the person, but it will be no more than 30% of the tenant’s income. Fremont has added a goal of allocating 10% of the housing units to homeless individuals with mental illnesses. The city’s goal is to create 156 affordable housing units through this project, which will be a huge step to the city’s affordable housing goal.




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